House Democrats call for Special Session on gun violence
Photo: Colin Hackley.

"Floridians want to see common-sense reforms to our state’s gun laws."

After yet another spate of mass shootings across the country, the Florida House Democratic caucus on Tuesday called for a Special Legislative Session “to address the epidemic of gun violence in our state.”

“The people of Florida deserve …to live in cities free from the plague of daily gun violence,” said Rep. Javier Fernández, a Coral Gables Democrat, on behalf of the caucus.

“They deserve to attend gatherings, schools, and houses of worship without a looming fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” he added. “And they deserve a Legislature who will do all it can to protect them.”

The call is unlikely to succeed, however: Republicans outnumber Democrats in the House 73-47, and in the state Senate 23-17.

The initiative comes after mass shootings earlier this month in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which took 31 lives. A week before that, a gunman shot and killed three people – including a 6-year-old and a 13-year-old – and injured 13 others at the Gilroy, California, Garlic Festival.

Gov. Ron DeSantis later ordered flags at half staff across the state to honor the shooting victims.

Fernández said it was “too late for those (already) impacted by gun violence, but if we act quickly we can stem this tide and save lives.”

House Speaker José Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican, issued a statement that lawmakers, “in a bipartisan effort, created the risk protection order and its effectiveness is without question,” referring to part of the legislative response after the 2018 Parkland high school shooting.

“While I’m sure this request for a Special Session is sincere and well-intentioned, we must always strive to do something right rather than just do something,” Oliva said in a statement.

“We have committee weeks coming up and regular Session shortly thereafter,” he added. “I have no doubt that there will be robust discussions about our Second Amendment rights, mental health, and their importance in our society.

“Lastly, I’ve always been particularly proud that we work on this issue in a bipartisan manner. I still believe it is the best way to do so.”

Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, “does not support calling a Special Session,” said Katie Betta, his spokeswoman.

His “memo to Senators earlier this month reflects his view on how the Senate should proceed with addressing these serious issues,” she added.

The House Democrats’ proposal would include the following, according to a news release:

— Require background checks for the transfer of all firearms.

— Prohibit the sale, transfer or possession of large-capacity magazines.

— Reduce the duration of licenses required to carry concealed firearms.

— Revise requirements for the safe storage of weapons in the home.

— Expand the number of individuals who can petition a court for a risk-protection order where a gun owner is believed to be a risk to themselves or others.

— Establish an Urban Core Gun Violence Task Force focused on reducing day-to-day gun violence.

Under state law, if 20 percent of the 160-member Legislature — 32 lawmakers — send letters to Secretary of State Laurel Lee requesting a Special Session, then a poll of the entire body is conducted.

At that point, three-fifths of each chamber — a total of 96 members — must vote “yes” for a Special Session to be called.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 20 percent of members had sent letters, according to the House Democrats.

State Department spokeswoman Sarah Revell late Tuesday provided the list of senders (at bottom) and said the poll had been sent to all lawmakers. The deadline to respond is 5 p.m. on Aug. 27.

In their press release, the Democrats said the “majority of Floridians want to see common-sense reforms to our state’s gun laws, but year after year the Legislature refuses to take the action necessary to save lives.

“Members of the House Democratic Caucus consistently file bills to improve our gun laws, but they rarely receive a committee hearing, quietly failing without ever garnering the attention and discussion this issue deserves.”

Staff Reports


  • NoMoreRepublicans!

    August 20, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    This state has been under Republican domination for 22 years. Republicans don’t “DO” anything except cut taxes. Beyond that, they’re “ANTI-” everything. They’re “ANTI-“abortion and “ANTI-” regulation – and “ANTI-” everything else the average American needs, wants, or prefers. REPUBLICANS WILL DO NOTHING ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE OR GUN CONTROL!

    • MoreRepublicansNeeded

      August 21, 2019 at 11:36 am

      Yes I am glad you understand now. Being Anti Abortion is actually Pro Life, being Anti Regulation means I am Pro Freedom. I think it is better to say Dems are Pro killing babies and Pro restricting my freedoms. You see it is perspective. You should seek enlightenment unless of course you are asking for Government to run your life.

  • Ken Heart

    August 20, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    Why is it that every time that some mentally deranged person breaks the law and or kills innocent bystanders the politicians try to make the innocent law abiding citizens pay for it?
    Enforce the laws that are already on the books. Put the blame on the person who is committing the crimes.
    Criminals will not give up their guns and they will continue to commit crimes. You will just make it easier for them to do it.
    Think before you act.

    • g

      August 21, 2019 at 5:22 am

      Why not focus on who does the shooting? DEMOCRATS! 90% of the mass shootings are done by registered Democrats! Democrats suck!

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 20, 2019 at 4:41 pm


  • gary

    August 21, 2019 at 5:20 am

    2nd amendment shall never be infringed! America will never be a socialist country! Give me liberty, or give me death!

    • Sonja Fitch

      August 21, 2019 at 6:04 am

      Be careful ….you know them there guns have their own minds.

  • Over it

    August 21, 2019 at 7:00 am

    Does anyone remember prohibition? Al Capone (and many others) made millions of dollars bringing in ILLEGAL alcohol. Drugs are ILLEGAL and yet all the drugs anyone could want come into the country ILLEGALLY everyday. And then we have the pill mills that distribute ‘legal drugs’ that are killing more people than guns ever have. ILLEGAL gun running is also a lucrative business, even today. Stop punishing those who have done no wrong when this country refuses to deal with the mental health issues that abound throughout our country and time has proven that, once again, only the innocent will abide by the laws and others will just make more money by ignoring them.


    August 22, 2019 at 2:41 am

    Making law-abiding citizens helpless won’t make criminals harmless.

Comments are closed.


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